Monday, 5 October 2020

Welsh Secatary snubbed by Home Secretary over Penally camp.

Earlier this week John Dixon over at at Borthglas saved me a fair bit of typing time with his piece on using in a military training camp to house asylum seekers.

For as John writes

"....I know Penally reasonably well (during three election campaigns, I reckon to have knocked just about every door in the village), and it is not well-served with facilities able to cope with a sudden unplanned increment in the population. On the other hand, the wider area does cope with a large seasonal increase in population every summer (with the obvious exception of 2020), so it should not be as large a problem as it’s been painted as long as it is properly planned and executed (a wholly unrealistic expectation of Patel and Johnson in itself, of course). I don’t know enough about the conditions at the camp to know whether they’re suitable for the purpose, but reports suggest that they really are not. The bigger question is whether it is, in any event, appropriate to treat people like “cattle in a holding pen” as Nicola Sturgeon put it in response to a suggestion that remote Scottish Islands were also on the list of possible sites for an offshore processing facility. She thinks not, and I entirely agree. It’s dehumanising and inhumane.

Whatever, even if the conditions and facilities were entirely suitable, I suspect that many of those objecting would still do so. And lest anyone think that I’m being unkind to the good citizens of Penally here, I believe that that statement would probably apply to any and every town and village across the UK; people will object to having refugees in their patch and would find other ‘valid reasons’ to oppose it. I’d like to believe that it’s not a majority view, but I have little choice but to accept that it’s the view of a substantial minority at the least. It’s easy enough to blame the politicians who have planted the idea that we should reject refugees (and I do blame them) or the tabloids for stoking anti-immigrant feelings (and, yes, I do blame them as well), but we cannot merely shrug off the fact that a substantial number of our fellow citizens harbour some very dark views when it comes to refugees. They are content, and in some cases even enthusiastic, to see refugees go without the basics, be sent ‘back’ without due process, be separated from society, be demonised, and even, as Sturgeon characterised it, ‘treated like cattle’. That doesn’t reflect well on any of us....."

It would be hypocritical for anyone who tales a sympathetic view on asylum seekers to to take a "Nimby" view  but as   Plaid Cymru's equalities spokeswoman, Leanne Wood, said a military camp was a "perverse" place for people who may have witnessed "the horrors of conflict".

"In meeting its moral duty to protect these individuals, the UK government should identify sites which are both safe and suitable to house them. At present, they seem to be failing on both fronts."

Still Penally looks a suoft option compared with  a Whitehall brainstorming session prompted by Priti Patel thatl ed to the idea being floated of sending asylum seekers to a volcanic island in the South Atlantic, the Guardian understands.

The Financial Times reported that the home secretary had asked officials to look into the idea of processing asylum seekers on Ascension Island, an isolated volcanic British territory, and on St Helena, which is part of the same island group but 800 miles away.

Nevertheless you would also expect the Home Sectary Home Secretary Priti Patel , to consult with the Welsh Senedd ro seek how best Wales could do its part in aiding these unfortunate people.

Mind you I don't think Ms Patel is the sharpest member of what already appears a pretty (no pun indented) mediocre cabinet.

Still she does work in that cabinet with the Welsh Secretary has said he was not informed by the UK government of plans to house asylum seekers in athe tary training camp which is also in his constituency .

Simon Hart said the Home Office "admitted" its plans to house up to 230 people at Penally, Pembrokeshire, "wasn't handled very well".

He said not "enough" respect had been shown to Welsh Government or the area.

The Home Office has previously said it had "worked at pace" to provide suitable accommodation.

Following demonstrations at the site, Wales' first minister said it had become a target for "hard-right extremist" protesters.

Men from Iraq and Iran housed at the camp said they were shocked by the conditions.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement programme, Mr Hart said it was "not a satisfactory situation for anybody concerned".

Mr Hart, the MP for the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said he found out from Pembrokeshire council.

"I've taken it up with [Home Secretary] Priti Patel on three, if not four, occasions now, plus the immigration minister," he said.

"The policy I can understand, and I understand the difficulty with Covid and finding Covid-compliant accommodation.

"I understand the difficulties at the moment over transport and all the things which have led to this.

"But the fact is that we all discovered completely by accident because of some comments on Facebook. There was no official contact.

"The practical application of this particular saga wasn't handled particularly well and the Home Office have actually admitted that.

"Whether it would've made any difference to the final decision is debateable but it's not really the point.

"We shouldn't be discovering these things by accident and by the fact that somebody posted something on Facebook."

He also said there was an "ongoing conversation" between the police and the Home Office around extra funding to deal with policing.

If the Home Secretary can snub her equal in the Cabinet in such a way one wonders  how much say the whole cabinet have in the actions of the Home Secretary, having such a loose cannon in that position , especially such a draconian right winger  is a worrying issue.

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